NBA Draft Night Eve: Free Agency, Trades, Predictions

Draft Night Eve

The phones are going off the hook, front offices in extensive dialogue and planning for A, B, and C scenarios.

This draft has been hyped up since last year, going into the 2013 draft that was not even close to the talent level of this class. In fact, I even read one ESPN writer say that 9 of these players were all-star caliber. To fill you in on the significance of that statement, the 1984 draft class had 7 all-stars, headlined by Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley & John Stockton. Same with the 2003 draft class, highlighted by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony.

Speaking of the last few names, the Miami trio can all possibly become unrestricted free agents. James has already opted out, as well as Anthony from the Big Apple. Wade and Bosh have a Monday deadline to make their decisions. If you haven’t been wrapped up into the off-season rumors, every year is fun to discuss what if, but this year brings similar excitement that we saw in 2010.

South Beach

This time around, there are a few indicators that we have somewhat of a handle on, beginning with the Heat that have won a pair of titles in 4 straight Finals appearances. It is extremely difficult to go awol from a winning culture, which Miami has carried out since building a foundation since selecting Wade. Like all good things just look at the top, Pat Riley has won a championships as a player, coach, and executive. You never hear about owner Mickey Arison, that is until his team clinches the Eastern Conference and reaches the Finals (that’s a good thing Dan Gilbert, more on him later).

Alright, that should be enough recap for you die-hard fans. It seems that Wade wants to maximize his currency throughout his last playing days, while opting out would be best for the team it isn’t necessarily better for him unless he gets more years on the deal. That would be the win-win for the team and player. Although the playoff run wasn’t the best of Wade’s career and the fact he played in 54/82 regular season games, he posted averages of 19 points, 5 rebounds and assists, and 1.5 steals. Truth be told, his father figure is Riley and he will probably retire with the team that drafted him.

Bosh loves the situation and location, his preference is to stay and keep the big 3 together. He is likely to opt out, whether it be exploring other suitors in his home-state of Texas or to help Miami’s cap flexibility. Most likely staying put, Bosh has been reported to follow the status of James if he were to surprisingly leave the beach.

James has been M-I-A since going on a vacation to the Bahamas, and Yahoo! reported he has yet to meet with Wade and Bosh to discuss their future. That means very little, by this point considering the success and friendship they have had, these guys along with Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra have developed a level of trust. Perhaps they are playing the game in front of the media: Wade speaking up about his contract worth, Spoelstra and James hibernating, Riley’s annual press conference and Monday’s response to James opting out.

The hopeful fans on other teams hoping to pry King James away, you could totally look at it another business decision by the savvy James. He is a business man off the court, perhaps keeping his distance from the core to get away with family and discuss the future with his inner circle. Put it this way Cleveland, James isn’t likely return but on that same note, whatever owner Dan Gilbert spouted off since losing the best player in the world has probably been put to rest. Odds are, there’s no place like Miami, but odds tend to change and hungry teams are putting plans into motion.

 

City of Angels

Los Angeles shouldn’t be too excited, the Clippers will probably add role players this offseason while the Lakers don’t have the ammunition to make big things happen. It’s one thing for Anthony or James to play with Kobe Bryant over the next 2 years, but that team looks far from contending and the Black Mamba is on his way out the door in a few years. These guys are looking for a max-contract, or near max, for a handful or more years to close out their careers in winning fashion. The Lakers haven’t been the Lake Show since the departure of Phil Jackson, understandably so. However, the late Jerry Buss has been succeeded by his son Jim, who doesn’t have that same vision. Lob City has quickly built a foundation since drafting Blake Griffin and trading for Chris Paul, coach and president Doc Rivers took the franchise to another level in year one together. That will continue, please don’t expect them to flip Griffin to Miami for James.

H-Town

Also on the trade front, don’t believe for one second that Houston really has suitors for Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. It may come to fruition after all because they’ve been on the block for awhile, but enough of that hypothetical James Harden trade chatter. The Rockets have a big 2 in Harden and Dwight Howard, they have some moves to make before they can seriously land a big name via free agency.

Prideful and strategic gentlemen such as Pat Riley and Phil Jackson are alpha dogs, they will do what’s best for business and that could mean letting their franchise guy walk. If they don’t want to help a team steal their go-to guy, if they don’t like what’s being offered, they don’t have to agree to a sign & trade whatsoever (Clippers, Rockets). They could simply shift their attention to another free agent and offer the money to them. Meaning, say LeBron leaves, the Heat could very well target Carmelo to fill the void and go from there. Word is, New York does not want Melo back at a max rate, perhaps a game of chicken there but the man wants to finally reach the Finals and hoist a trophy.

Mavericks & Knicks Trade Today

Mavericks Get

C Tyson Chandler, G Raymond Felton

Knicks Get

PG Jose Calderon, C Samuel Dalembert, SG Wayne Ellington, PG Shane Larkin, and a pair of 2nd round picks tomorrow night (34th and 51st picks)

The Mavericks reunite with Chandler, part of their championship run and 1 of 2 teams to beat Miami in a playoff series (Spurs being the second). They get bigger down low, a defensive anchor to coexist with Dirk Nowitzki again, and Felton is adds to a veteran back court of Monta Ellis and Vince Carter (likely to re-sign).

The Knicks added a starting and backup point guard, Calderon is on the books for 3 years and Larkin is only 21-years-old. Dalembert basically replaces Tyson Chandler as the paint protector, and Ellington is a shooter that will come off the bench (maybe replacing J.R. Smith).

Predictions

Melo to the Windy City, he wants soldiers and this fits better than Cinderella’s glass slipper. Joining forces with a returning MVP in Derrick Rose, Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, and a Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau. Noah has reached out to Anthony since All-Star Weekend, Thibodeau has coached him in the Olympics. With a healthy Rose this was the biggest threat to Miami in the East, they lack scoring and Melo has been top 3 for a decade.

Miami sticks together. They have a plan, nothing radical will come of them all opting out, but they will improve at point.

They aren’t finished there, Dallas isn’t going to re-sign Shawn Marion. The Matrix finds his way back to Miami, giving them yet another box filler and spark off the bench that will gladly do the dirty work.

What that means is Mario Chalmers will play for a different team, I think he gets by Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, an underrated PG (or unknown playing for the Raptors) that is a box filler.

Kevin Love is gone & Minnesota would get more now than they would at the All Star Break. He should be Golden State bound along with Kevin Martin, at some point getting traded for Klay Thompson and David Lee.

Rajon Rondo will get traded, they won’t acquire a star player and Boston will rebuild through the draft (2 first round picks, 6 & 17). Thinking one of two scenarios get the Celtics to ship Rondo.(1) Trade him to Kings for 8th pick and some extras may be included, (2) they take Jeremy Lin & Omer Asik along with the Rockets’ 25th pick, maybe some extras included.

Thinking Dallas doesn’t land one of the big fish but they do have ample cap space. Not sure if acquiring Chandler changes the Pau Gasol interest, but I see them bringing Luol Deng on board. The small forward is one of the better defenders in the league, and plays within the flow of the offense as a role player. If Gasol really takes a pay-cut, why not both?

Draft Day

The top pick should get traded, Cleveland has an offer from Orlando that would make them better. The Magic put the #4 and #12 pick on the table, and SG Aaron Afflalo. I would have said yes yesterday, adding Afflalo to a back court rotation with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Although this could put Waiters on the block, it would be a nice rotation if they pulled the trigger and kept the trio. Either team that will be on the clock first, the top pick of the draft should be Andrew Wiggins.

Which leaves in my opinion, the best player at this point in time, Jabari Parker. Wiggins is a two-way player, an active defender and likely, a second scoring option. Parker didn’t have the best reported workout for the Cavaliers. Some tid bits, his father is sick and he wants to go to Milwaukee because it’s a couple of hours away from home. On a basketball note, a source said he tanked his Cleveland workout, whatever the truth is, that isn’t the greatest fit anyway. Parker is more vocal, more of an alpha dog on the floor, the Bucks would be his team from day one.

Joel Embid, no clue why this guy became the consensus top pick. To me, that’s like crowning Paul George for playing at a high level, as the next big thing. Hold your horses, George is still growing and on the rise, give him time he hasn’t earned anything yet. It takes awhile for media to catch up, George and MVP Kevin Durant gets far too many passes. Passes that Embid may never get on the court, serious foot and back problems have me pointing at the team that picks him as tanking next season. We’ve seen this with Greg Oden and Yao Ming, among others (Sam Bowie, 1 of 2 guys drafted before His Airness).

This is a deep draft, enjoy tomorrow night as the rumors continue to swirl and free agents make their rounds in the coming weeks.